Starting in August, an airline that loses your bag will have to reimburse you for the baggage fee you paid to have it safely delivered with you to your destination. The airline can’t lose your bag and keep your money, as is currently the practice.
Why will the airline have to refund your fee? Because the government says so.
That’s why we need government.
For many years, Americans have bought into the notion—a common theme among Republicans—that government regulation isn’t necessary because “the market” takes care of everything.
Well, the market doesn’t take care of everything. In the words of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, “Competition has not taken care of these problems. We would not be addressing them if competition had done that.”
Airlines are businesses, and their moral compass is profit. Without pressure of some kind to be fair, a business such as an airline has no incentive to do something that may be inconvenient and unprofitable, such as refunding a fee for a lost bag.
Banks had no reason to stop escalating the already usurious interest rates they charged for credit card purchases, or to refund unfair or unwarranted fees and fines, until the government stepped in and provided some firm, fair guidelines. Without government, processors have no incentive to be sure our foods are safe. It’s government that makes sure no company can dump toxic waste in your back yard—convenient as that might be for the company.
It’s an imperfect system, but it beats saying to a major corporation, “Please, sir or ma’am, I know I’m only one person, and I’m not rich or famous or powerful, but would you please be kind enough to . . . .”
Good luck with that.